The banning of books limits students’ knowledge about history

By Michel Baez-Vargas, Clarion Staff Reporter

The banning of books has always been a controversial topic, and recently with the well known graphic novel, Maus, by Art Spiegelman. 

Maus, first published in 1980, is a nonfiction story set during the Holocaust with Jews depicted as mice and Nazis as cats. 

According to McMinn’s County Board of Education Meeting on January 10th, 2022, in Tennessee this piece of literature was banned from many school libraries because “some of this vulgar and inappropriate behavior can be whited out,” as stated by school board member, Tony Allman. 

Back in Sam Brannan Middle School, I read Maus in my English class with Mrs. Wiley. I remember the vulgar behavior Allman referred to in Maus.

Reading through the novel, inappropriate language was never a huge topic that was brought up in discussions we had in class. My class and I would expand on what the meaning of certain elements of the novel meant, and why the author would’ve included this in his work.

While I do not fully agree with Allman, from their perspective of vulgar language being in the book middle schoolers read this also raises the question: How long should we avoid vulgar language for children when they are exposed to this sort of language by friends or at home?

The rise of social media has been a major part of this generation’s life. Since elementary school, students begin to wonder if times have changed. If books that contain profanity are a “big deal” as they once were when technology was not prevalent for students, or are they a “big deal” as of now, even with middle schoolers having access to technology. 

Speaking from experience, books that contain foul language weren’t a major shock due to knowing these words as a middle schooler. Vulgar words were something I had been exposed to from early access to social media but also in TV shows and radio music, as are many children in this generation.

When interviewing Mr. Campos, John F. Kennedy’s Librarian, this is what he had to say. 

“When Harry Potter books first came out, there were a lot of Christians groups that actually wanted to (ban it)” says Mr. Campos. 

When asked “why?”, Mr. Campos explains, “ Wizardry, going against the teaching of the Bible.”

Mr. Campos additionally added that anyone or any group can challenge the school district to ban a book but the reason to ban said book differs from each group.
Such as books written about LGBTQIA+, muslims (especially during 9/11), or novels going against one’s religion.

Mr. Campos continues to talk about an organization named C.R.T. which stands for Critical Race Theory. Critical Race Theory stands strongly that race is a social construct and racism is the outcome of prejudice. 

Campos believes that the library is a “basic idea” place where students are able to agree and disagree, and “explore ideas instead of one idea, and explore ideas that represent your vision.” 

Overall, book banning is a process that numerous schools find themselves doing for multiple reasons such as racism or going against someone’s religion in novels. As seen with Maus, books are also taken away from shelves according to the appropriateness of the grade level, even if the novel contains great historical background. Even if schools do not allow students to read these books due to grade level, this should not discourage parents from allowing their children to read, especially in libraries where kids are able to explore and branch out from their small world. 

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